Browsing the archives for the natural gas heat tag.


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    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, green living, solar, Uncategorized, Wind

    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

     Sometimes people don’t vote because they think “one vote can’t change anything”. I think the 2000 election proved that wrong, but some people still don’t believe. Now is your time to be counted by your elected officials. If you want this country to move forward with cleaner energy contact you Congressional Representatives and Senators today. It only takes a minute but can help save the earth a life time.

     Click here to email your U.S. Representative and Senators about the NAT GAS Act today!

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    Choosing to convert from oil to natural gas

    energy, heating options, Uncategorized

    I apologize for my abscence. This is not my full time job and life is not always as forgiving as we would like it to be. Enough of pleasentries.

    I wish to update you on my mission to find options for my parents heating dilemas. I can update this in a single phrase….sticker price shock! It seems in this world of forclosures, out of control oil prices, job losses and banks “feeing” us to death, among other things, we are caught in a “catch-22” situation. My goal of this blog is to highlight ideas and products that won’t cost an arm and a leg upfront to save energy, save fuel and save money in a reasonalbe amount of time.

    The bottom line is that both of my parents have oil heat and I wanted to look into converting them to natural gas heat. My father lives alone has gas already piped to his house but has old fashion steam radiators and only about 900 sq.ft. My mother has four adults living in her house, doesn’t have gas piped to her house but has more modern baseboard system and about 1500 sq.ft. Amazingly enough both estimates where within a few dollars of each other. It would cost approximately $5,500 to convert each house. This includes the fuel efficient furnace and a new energy star hot water heater. Wow, that floored me. Both of my parents are on fixed incomes and can hardly afford to shell out this kind of money. But can they afford not to?

    I found a area of National Grid’s (our local natural gas provider) web site that gave a conversion rate from oil to natural gas. According to National Grid, if you multiply your oil consumption in gallons by 1.385 you will get your approximate gas consumption in cubic feet. Each of my parents used about 700 gallons of oil in the last physical year. 700 gallons of oil x 1.385=969.5ccf of natural gas. Using $4/gallon for oil and the composite rate for gas in Aug. 2008 of $1.7725/ccf,  the annual savings would be around $1080/year. They would be breaking even on their investment within five years, if the current rates applied. Overall not a bad investment when a conventional solar system is not anticipated to break even for 10 to 20 years. But more on solar another time. 

    In Massachusetts, were I live, there is a program for low cost or no cost loans for heating improvents at http://www.masssave.com/about/heat_loan.php. This will allow many people who cannot come up with the cost of converting up front. Please check your individual states and utility companies for information on fuel assistance, tax incentives, discount utility rates and loan programs.

    In the case of my parents…. I think my mother will convert to natural gas. She plans on being in her house for more than five years and her income is not getting any larger. Natural gas is plentiful in North America and is not reliant on foreign suppliers. Weighing the odds we both feel gas will be the more reliable and cheaper way to go. We are not sure my father will be in his house for five years and he gets fuel assistance so he probably will not convert. I guess I will be putting eeFuel in his tank and pray oil prices don’t go through the roof this winter. 

     

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    What are our heating options this winter?

    energy, heating options, Uncategorized

    It seems like summer just began, but alas, some children have already headed off in the yellow bus. This can mean only one thing, winter is on the way. With the cold weather, comes the cold reality of high heating bills.  My parents both live in the North East and each has oil heat. I have taken on the task of getting estimates to convert their homes to natural gas. I started with a phone call to our natural gas distributor who happens to be National Grid. They are running a special program right now to get new furnaces at a deep discount. They will even set up an appointment with a contractor for an estimate. I have met with the contractor sent to my father’s house and will meet with the contractor assigned to my mother’s house next week. I also plan to get two more estimates at each house. I will follow up on the results next time.

    My basic reason for looking into this oil to gas conversion is to save fuel, save energy and save money. Right now oil is far more expensive than gas but this is the first time in recent history that this has been the case. Ten years ago home heating oil was only 63¢/gallon a far cry to the $4.00/gallon we are facing this winter. The reality is that nobody seems to think the price of oil is going to go down significantly any time in the foreseeable future. The natural gas supply is not reliant on foreign countries, 99% of natural gas is from North America. A natural disaster can cause a sudden spike in price due to interruption of production, but it has never historically stayed high.

    Another option to fight high heating bills is stoves. Wood stoves have come a long way, they are now manufactured to provide a clean, efficient burn with virtually no dust or soot being emitted into the house and far less carbon into the atmosphere. A good stove can cost between $600 and $1500, not including pipe, blowers and installation. This is great if firewood is readily available in your area and you have a place to store the wood and you don’t mind hauling it in every day or so, even in bad weather. And of course if the power is out you still have heat, but this is not an option for my aging parents.

    For some, a better option may be a pellet stove.  These too have evolved into clean, efficient burning stoves. Unlike wood stoves they use pellets made of saw dust, wood chips or scrap wood from sawmills, the pellets are 100% recycled material and no trees are cut just to produce them. The pellets usually come in 40lb. bags that sell around $4 a bag depending on where you live. Stoves come with a hopper that automatically feeds the stove depending on how high the thermostat is set. They need to be filled every 10 to 40 hours depending on the stove and heat setting. This also means you have control of the heat output. Pellet stoves are also more expensive, between $1500 and $3500. The hopper also needs electricity to work so you need an optional battery backup if you have frequent power outages. There are also multi-fuel stoves that can use corn, pellets or some other fuels such as soy beans or pits. This link (http://www.pelletheat.org/3/residential/compareFuel.cfm) will explain more about pellet stoves and also has a calculator to compare heating with different fuels in your particular area.

    There are other options too. Wind power, solar power and geothermal look like great options in the foreseeable future. The problem is, for now, they are way too expensive for the average consumer even with the tax breaks and utility discounts offered. Most of these products range in the tens of thousands of dollars. I see a time in the near future where these renewable sources of energy, and many more, will be plentiful and affordable. This new energy market will bring about products that will save fuel, save energy, save money, help save the environment and probably help save the economy as well.

    In my next blog I hope to update you on the costs of converting to natural gas if my parents decide to go that direction. I also plan on introducing options for getting the most out of the furnace you already have in place without having to spend of fortune to save a little energy.

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